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Starship Troopers Paperback – May 15, 1987
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Juan Rico signed up with the Federal Service on a lark, but despite the hardships and rigorous training, he finds himself determined to make it as a cap trooper. In boot camp he will learn how to become a soldier, but when he graduates and war comes (as it always does for soldiers), he will learn why he is a soldier. Many consider this Hugo Award winner to be Robert Heinlein's finest work, and with good reason. Forget the battle scenes and high-tech weapons (though this novel has them)--this is Heinlein at the top of his game talking people and politics.
“Nothing has come along that can match it.”—Science Fiction Weekly
“A book that continues to resonate and influence to this day, and one whose popularity and luster hasn’t been dimmed despite decades of imitations.”—SF Reviews
“Heinlein’s genius is at its height in this timeless classic that is as meaningful today as when it was written...a fast-paced novel that never gets preachy. This is a definite must-have, must-read book.”—SF Site
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Starship Troopers is the story of a young man who lives in a world where citizenship only applies to veterans. Since citizenship brings with it many benefits, our hero sets out to join the military, save humanity, and earn the right to be a full citizen of Earth. After much hardship, many lost comrades, and many heroic acts, he ends the book an officer in command of the unit he started with. Along the way we find out that arachnid aliens are at war with Earth over colonization rights in distant galaxies, war is hell where people die in the most gruesome ways, and even in the midst of all that hardship there is time for romance.
A rousing celebration of humanity, masculinity, femininity, equal rights, and the importance of patriotism, Starship Troopers remains one of the most important space operas ever written. It helped define the field, set down many of the modern expectations about space warfare, and introduced the world to powered armor fighting suits. Without Starship Troopers there would have been no Gundam anime, no rock'em sock'em fighting robots, and no Real Steel movie.
No spoilers from me! The story is told from the perspective of Juan "Johnnie" Rico, a rich kid with a promising future in his father's business. The story follows Rico's change from enjoying a privileged life to experiencing a challenging life in the Mobile Infantry (MI). Unlike many of Heinlein's later leads, Rico is a somewhat self-deprecating and flawed character that often just muddles through the situations he encounters.
Those that are expecting the non-stop action of the movie (Starship Troopers (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray], which I liked) may be disappointed and, if having watched the movie before reading this book, will be shocked by the liberties taken with the story line and genders of several characters. It should also be noted that the violence portrayed in the book is relatively tame and mostly glossed over (unlike the movie) and there really isn't much in the way of sexual content (again, unlike the movie and much of Heinlein's later writing).
This story does not feel too dated and I enjoyed being able to show it my teenagers after they watched the movie.
Read this book if you enjoy a good military experience story, even if you don't care for sci-fi. Most of the book is focused on the main character's training, which any veteran should be able to relate to. I do wish there had been more combat scenes - the beginning and the end are the most exciting parts!
Don't read this book if you find nothing interesting or have no respect for the military mindset. Avoid it too if you have no tolerance for ethical\moral worldviews outside of your own. The culture developed is not authoritarian, yet not progressive or libertarian either. Gets a little preachy, but doesn't bog things down.
No sex, no cursing, no graphic violence. Just a smart, quick and enjoyable read.